The parents of a nine-year-old girl in the UK have sent their daughter to a psychotherapist after she became so addicted to the video game “Fortnite” that she would rather wet herself than get up to go to the restroom.
“We had no idea, when we let her play the game, of the addictive nature or the impact it could have on her mental health,” the girl’s mother, Carol, told the publication the Sunday People. “She is in therapy for the addiction after she became withdrawn, agitated, and disturbed from playing up to 10 hours a day … sometimes playing until dawn, wetting herself so she didn’t have to leave the screen.”
The matter reportedly began in January after the girl’s parents bought her an Xbox One, and soon afterward, she downloaded the game Fortnite. The popular survival video game, which has an estimated 125 million players, has two versions: the paid version, which involves gunning down or entrapping zombie-like creatures who have overrun the Earth, and the free version, which involves a last-man-standing end goal, to kill off all others.
“This is an action game in which players build forts, gather resources, craft weapons and battle hordes of monsters in frenetic combat … players use guns, swords, and grenades … [and] can also defeat enemies by using various traps (e.g., electric, spikes, poisonous gas). Battles are highlighted by frequent gunfire, explosions, and cries of pain,” explains the Entertainment Software Rating Board.
In March, the girl’s parents were called in by her concerned teacher to advise that the girl’s grades were slipping and that she had fallen asleep twice in class.
The girl soon also became too tired for other activities, including attending church.
Her parents asked her about the issue, but they said that she became argumentative and aggressive. They also noticed charges on their credit card to Microsoft, which their daughter said were extras for the game.
Seeing that the matter had gotten out of hand, they took away the child’s Xbox, and were met with a violent reaction.
“Of course we were furious and confiscated her Xbox. But then she lashed out and hit my husband in the face,” Carol said.
The parents sought to limit the girl’s play time, but the last straw was when they realized their daughter had become so addicted to the game that she would rather wet herself than take a break to use the restroom. They also found that the girl was craftily waiting until they fell asleep at night, and then would play the game for hours behind their back.
“My husband saw her light on in the night and found her sitting on a urine-soaked cushion playing the game,” Carol explained. “I found her backside was red-raw. She was so hooked to the game she wouldn’t even go to the toilet.”
“We worked out that she could have been playing for up to ten hours a day, and we’d had no idea,” she said.
The girl is now obtaining help from psychotherapist Steve Pope.
“Over the last two months I’ve been contacted by dozens of parents with children as young as eight showing signs of addiction to Fortnite,” he told the Sunday People. “… I know bright kids who will fail their exams this summer because of Fortnite, kids who are stealing from their parents and friends to pay for the extras, kids who urinate in bottles because they can’t bear to leave the game.”